The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) recommended against Agnico Eagle’s proposed expansion of the Meliadine gold mine near Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada, citing a potential negative impact on nearby caribou calving grounds, CBC News reports.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board, environmental assessment agency, plays an important role in shaping the future of Nunavut, Canada's youngest and largest territory.
Agnico Eagle's proposal would have extended the mine's life by 11 years, to 2043, and built an 11-turbine wind farm to power the mine. According to the company, the extension would have created additional job opportunities and continued "Agnico's 15-year history of environmental commitments in the region."
The NIRB said the mine, which opened in 2015 and is 25 kilometres from Rankin Inlet, should not expand at this time, "due to the considerable uncertainty of the potential for the proposal to have negative, lasting effects on caribou, and the uncertainty of cumulative effects."
Agnico Eagle spokesperson said the company would take the time to fully review and understand the NIRB's recommendation report and assess their next steps before making any further comments.
Throughout the hearing, Agnico Eagle received pushback from Inuit organisations, the Government of Nunavut and the Rankin Inlet Hunters and Trappers Organisation as well as members of the public over the proposed location for the wind farm, because of its proximity to caribou calving grounds.
On the hearing's final day, Agnico Eagle changed its position, saying it would not build the wind farm in the originally proposed location and would instead work with the Kivalliq Inuit Association to find a suitable location.
The NIRB’s decision is not binding and serves only as a recommendation for the Minister of Northern Affairs. The final decision on the mine’s future now rests with Canada’s Minister of Northern Affairs, who has 180 days to respond.
Rankin Inlet, located on the northwestern shore of Hudson Bay, is the second largest community in Nunavut and is the administration and transportation hub of the Kivalliq region.